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Population

11,575

Population density

807.7/km2 (2,092.1/sq mi)

Land area

14.33 km2 (5.53 sq mi)

Territory

Esquimalt First Nation

Main Industries

retail, automotive, hospitality

The chance to buy B.C.’s oldest pub doesn’t come up very often, but when it did, Dave Wong didn’t hesitate. The now owner/operator of the Six Mile Pub, first established in 1855 as a roadhouse stop in what’s now View Royal, was attracted to both its heritage and its location.

“The pub has had such a big impact on the area, and has entertained so many travellers over the years,” he says. “And when I bought it, I saw the potential based on its proximity to recreational opportunities and easy access to the West Shore. And I appreciate that I get to live so close to my workplace.”

View Royal borders Esquimalt, Saanich, Langford, Colwood, Highlands, and the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations. A century ago, the Town was a local pleasure spot for South Island residents, who built cottages and homes along the Esquimalt Harbour and the Portage Inlet. Its historic road houses, the Four Mile House and the Six Mile Public House, were originally built as a stopping point between communities.

Now known as the ‘bedroom suburb of Victoria,’ the wild beauty that first charmed cottagers remains, with much of View Royal’s land given over to natural parklands, freshwater lakes and saltwater estuaries. It is a nature-lover’s delight, attracting hikers, kayakers, beachgoers and boating enthusiasts.

The town experienced its first housing boom in the 1960s and is now home to over 11,000 people. 

Business Climate

The average household income in View Royal is $83,994 and the average age of its residents is 44.8. “I love that View Royal typically has a younger population, so we see more families and young people with their first homes,” says Wong. 

Largely residential: Though it has experienced significant growth over the past three decades, View Royal’s residential population still accounts for over 70% of the municipal tax base, not surprising given that so much of its land is given over to parks and lakes.

Commuter-friendly: Less than ten percent of the population both live and work in View Royal. Instead, people take advantage of its gateway location to commute between Victoria’s urban core and the growing West Shore municipalities. 

Unique natural environments Thetis Lake Park, Millstream Creek, Craigflower Creek, Esquimalt Harbour and Portage Inlet all offer spectacular opportunities to commune with nature, with the Town of View Royal committed to maintaining their integrity and beauty. 

Pocket commercial development: View Royal’s shopping and retail centres are situated along the Island Highway corridor, while neighbourhoods are concentrated to take advantage of the Town’s waterfront and forest views.

Transportation corridor: The Town is traversed by three major transportation routes – Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway), the Island Highway and the E & N (Esquimalt and Nanaimo) rail line. These routes have had a significant impact on the development pattern of View Royal for several decades.

Community Assets

Though View Royal is considered to be part of the regional core (expected to experience gradual and moderate growth over the coming decades), it borders the West Shore communities where the majority of new development is anticipated. This makes it an ideal location for businesses looking for broader reach or whose employees come from across Greater Victoria.

Small town, big impact: Victoria General Hospital is centrally located in View Royal and it is one of the largest employers on Vancouver Island, and in the town. The community is also adjacent to CFB Esquimalt, another of the region’s largest employers, as well as Seaspan Shipyards.

Concentrated commercial: The Island Highway connects Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula to the West Shore communities, so it makes sense that much of View Royal’s commercial development has taken place along this major transportation route. Development there is expected to intensify over the next decade. 

Big attraction: View Royal is home to the only casino in Greater Victoria, acting as a regional draw as well as a tourist attraction.

Opportunities

People live in View Royal because they like its easy access to both work and play, appreciating its abundant natural landscape. The town’s community vision is to retain its charm while promoting compact and walkable places, respecting the charm and scale of established residential areas, revitalizing commercial areas, and protecting natural areas and resources.

Chuck Keeling, Executive Vice President, Stakeholder Relations and Responsible Gaming, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation has nothing but praise for the support the Casino has received since it opened Elements Casino.

“We’re very pleased to be here,” he says. “I can’t say enough about how welcoming and supportive the Mayor and Council have been. We undertook a multimillion-dollar renovation in 2018 because we knew we’d be staying a long time and we saw the market opportunity. Like other Westshore communities they’ve taken a very progressive view around responsible development that allows the region to grow and create those opportunities for business.”

Committed to green: As with many other municipalities across the region, View Royal embraces any opportunity to grow a carbon neutral and sustainable community. The town encourages energy-efficient, sustainable development, and environmental protection.

Compact housing: View Royal wants to densify their neighbourhoods with well-designed compact housing. The town is particularly interested in redevelopment near neighbourhood centres and transit corridors that bring jobs and services closer to where people live – minimizing the need for commuting, and creating pedestrian-friendly streets and destinations. 

Specific opportunities: View Royal wants to encourage businesses specializing in medical technologies as well as high-paying tech businesses looking for centralized locations close to major transportation routes.

Staying local: View Royal encourages businesses who provide retail and services to their residents as it looks to build their mixed-use centres. These will help it achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need to travel outside of the community.

A new way to farm: Very little of View Royal is given over to farmland, but the town is committed to finding ways to encourage local agricultural producers, encouraging proposals for urban farming.

Heart of the town: For now, View Royal does not have an identifiable commercial town centre, or central gathering place, for civic and cultural activities. The municipality is looking into opportunities to create one, discussing various sites and concepts.

Rapid transit: View Royal is researching regional rapid transit and commuter rail options to reduce commuter traffic and congestion.

The Right Fit for You?

View Royal’s pivotal location within the Capital Region, easy access to transportation corridors, and reputation as a desirable place to live, mean that this once semi rural community is also changing.

Their challenge is to manage inevitable growth in a thoughtful, conscious manner. The Town is ideal for those businesses who want to fill retail, service and high tech gaps in their community, while enjoying all the amenities this hidden gem has to offer.

Interested in learning more? Contact the team at South Island Prosperity Partnership.

History

The Esquimalt First Nation, a Coast Salish indigenous people, are the first known inhabitants of View Royal, which formed part of their traditional territory. Their traditional name is Xwsepsum, also written Kosapsum. 

The area was first populated by European settlers in the mid 1800s, when Kenneth Mackenzie established the Craigflower farm, and Dr. John Helmcken (Vancouver Island’s first doctor) purchased 640 acres of farmland from the Hudson’s Bay Company for $5 per acre. 

As Victoria grew in population, people developed seasonal cottages along the Town’s shoreline to serve as “getaways”. Many of these quaint structures remain and have been converted into year-round residences. 

In 1912, Helmcken’s son James sold 80 acres to the Island Investment Company, who marketed development lots as View Royal because of their scenic waterfront views.

It was only in the 1950s that residents began advocating for a municipality status, first circulating a petition urging annexation by Esquimalt. In the mid 1960s a Price Waterhouse study presented three options: status quo, union with Esquimalt, or incorporation as a town. View Royal’s incorporation became official December 5, 1988.